Consultorio Musical: Basic guide on the registration of musical works in Cuba
There is a widespread myth that once someone composes a musical work and believes it is going to be very successful (which almost always happens, not that it reaches success, but that the author believes that it is the maximum), it has to run to register it because it can be plagiarized or simply because this step is mandatory before recording it or sending it to a contest or doing anything with it. When I call it a myth, I mean something that is far from the truth in several ways.
In the first place, in almost the whole world and also in Cuba, copyright or intellectual property laws grant protection to works, and exclusive rights over them to their authors by the sole fact - and from the moment - of their creation. That is, if you have created an original musical work, even if you have it on a piece of paper in the drawer of the dresser or recorded in an audio on your phone, the law already protects you.
The only place where it is not worth having it - or it is worth it, but it is not protected there - is in your head and without it having yet acquired a defined external form. Even if you have sung the chorus to your friend on the P5, or commented to your chicx in privacy where the story of the song goes. Be careful what you hum on the bus or confess when you are in love. The law does not go that far and only protects the work once it exists in some physical form (text, audio recording, score). And this, of course, is the same for literary, audiovisual or any other kind of works.
Therefore, the eventual registration of a musical work - unpublished or not, and that in the Cuban case is expected to be carried out at the National Copyright Center (Cenda) - is voluntary and does not constitute rights. The latter means that, even if you have a paper that says that you have registered Until the Malecón dries up in Cenda, that document does not constitute you as the author of the song, and if you exploit it commercially without being the true author Whoever is, can sue you and prove (with all the evidence that is valid in Law such as expert witnesses, testimonies and documentaries) that it is he, Jacob Forever, the true composer and not you, no matter how much Cenda paper with stamp that it Say it and much that you know it by heart or that you sing it better than the creator himself.
Even if the work is duly protected in Cenda or in any other intellectual property registry of those that exist in various countries around the world, it may be subject to plagiarism or other unauthorized uses, and the arbitrator or court that resolves the conflict, if when it occurs, it will only take the apparent ownership granted by the registry - the Cenda slip - as one of the tests to be taken into account, but not the definitive one. You may also have heard talk - and if you are a musician you have practiced - of another type of registration (the appropriate thing would be to call it documentation) in some collective rights management entity. In the Cuban case, it would be in the Cuban Musical Copyright Agency (Acdam), although there are authors who belong to the General Society of Authors and Editors (Sgae) of Spain, or others from different countries and it is in those that register their works .
You may also have heard talk - and if you are a musician you have practiced - of another type of registration (the appropriate thing would be to call it documentation) in some collective rights management entity. In the Cuban case, it would be in the Cuban Musical Copyright Agency (Acdam), although there are authors who belong to the General Society of Authors and Editors (Sgae) of Spain, or others from different countries and it is in those that register their works .
This process, which is also declarative and admits proof to the contrary, is carried out for the purposes of the collection and distribution of royalties that could be generated by the commercialization of the works, and that this type of entity manages and collects in favor and in representation of composers and authors in front of commercial music users (radio stations, television channels, audiovisual production companies, hotels, discotheques, bars, digital distribution platforms, and a long etcetera). Therefore, here it is not worthwhile or does not rush the registration of unpublished works or that nobody is singing, recording or exploiting commercially, because, as the saying goes, a stopped ship does not earn freight.
The documentation of works in the collective management entity is a relatively simple process, which, if carried out analogically, requires the delivery of a musical pattern that includes the harmonic coding and the melodic line plus the lyrics, in the event that the work has text, and also requires the delivery of a copy of any contract for the assignment of rights that the authors or composers have signed with a music publisher or publisher. In this way, it is defined for the collective management entity how the income that the work produces should be distributed, if it is lucky enough to produce it.
Si la obra musical que has creado no es completamente original, en el sentido de que para hacerla usaste un fragmento, o un brackground, o un pedazo de la letra o lo que sea, de una obra que ya existía, o si lo que has hecho es un arreglo o una versión, por muy bueno que te haya quedado, entonces no puedes registrar tu obra musical tan linda, hasta tanto no hayas conseguido el permiso de quien creó la original. Esto es importante y no tiene excepciones: ni que el autor o la autora esté muerto, ni que sea tu socix, ni que la tuya esté mejor, ni que sean seis compases solamente.
La transformación de una obra (que la ley protege, ya lo hemos dicho, desde su creación) es derecho exclusivo de su autorx o de lxs representantes o sucesorxs de aquél y solamente ellxs pueden autorizarla. A causa de esta limitación, muchos creadorxs de música electrónica y DJ sampleadorxs no pueden registrar sus obras. No juzgo si esto es bueno o malo para un género, solo digo lo que la ley permite y lo que no.
Antes mencioné que no tenía excepciones y no es tan así, pero las excepciones son muy precisas; las más comunes son:
-That the work is in the public domain, that is, the time required by law has elapsed since the death of its creator. For example, when in your music you use a Vivaldi fragment or a Yoruba prayer that comes from anonymous Afro-Cuban popular culture.
-That the use is non-commercial and is expressly provided as a limitation authorized by law. In music this limitation is hardly used. I think it could be applied, in keeping with Cuban legislation, to the use of a piece of text from a song by Raúl Torres, incorporated into the school hymn of a primary school.
-The registration for the purposes of intellectual property is not mandatory for your musical work to be protected.
-You must not register a work that is not your own or in which you have used fragments or versioned an original work without the express authorization of the person who created it or its representatives.
-There is also a record or documentation that is required for the collective management of the commercial activity of the works.
Finally, perhaps it is worth clarifying that names (of musical groups, projects or shows) are not protected by copyright under Cuban law and are not registered as musical works; although they could be registered as trade names or trademarks in the Industrial Property Registry of the OCPI. Phonographic supports are not registered as works either, as is the case (in favor of their producer), in other countries.
But these topics would already be the subject of another article.
A lawyer. Hyperlinker Teen violinist mother. Organizer cream. Bad memory only for what suits you. Dream of retiring to read.